Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)
Our Lord Jesus Christ provides His sheep with a cosmic covering. To “cover,” at the deepest level of understanding, is to forgive and to forget, and only God has the ability to do that over and over and over again in our lives.
While Jesus hung on the cross He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He was speaking directly about those people who had nailed Him to that cruel cross! Once we have this truth firmly planted in our understanding, we can begin to live this forgiveness out in our lives with others, which is specifically what Peter was referring to in today’s passage. Peter was talking about interpersonal relationships on the horizontal level. Only as we are able to love others as Jesus has loved us – by forgiving as we have been forgiven – can we truly be considered His disciples. Because we have been given this cosmic covering of grace and mercy, we must be willing to offer it to others.
But what we must remember in our interpersonal relationships is the fact that love covers “a multitude” of sins — not all of them — and Paul makes this clear in the following ways:
- We are not to participate with others in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather we are to shed light on them (Ephesians 5:11).
- We are to separate ourselves from those who claim to be believers and still live immoral and destructive lives (1 Corinthians 5:11).
- We are to give a word of warning to those who are living idle and disruptive lives (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
- We are to bring restoration to anyone who has been caught in the snare of sin (Galatians 6:1).
The life of the believer is a life lived in the shadow of the cross, as we forgive and forbear, prayerfully trying, in our own sin-stained way, to emulate the forgiveness and forbearance of our loving Lord. Love does indeed cover a multitude of sins. Yet there are sins that must be addressed in love when someone’s sin is destructive to them or those around them. We have received a cosmic covering of the love of our Lord, and we are to express that love to others — deeply and from the heart.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!